SBIR Phase I:High-power Mechanical Energy Harvesting Using Reverse Electrowetting on Nanostructured Surfaces

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1013372
Agency Tracking Number: 1013372
Amount: $149,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2010
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: IC
Solicitation Number: NSF 09-609
Small Business Information
InStep NanoPower
4715 Sheboygan Ave,, Apt 117, Madison, WI, 53705
DUNS: 832739614
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Joseph Taylor
 PhD
 (608) 890-1949
 jataylor@engr.wisc.edu
Business Contact
 Joseph Taylor
Title: PhD
Phone: (608) 890-1949
Email: jataylor@engr.wisc.edu
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will determine feasibility of developing a radically new mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion method which is based on reverse electrowetting - a recently discovered novel microfluidic phenomenon. The approach is targeted towards high-power harvesting of mechanical energy, which is achieved through the interaction of thousands of microscopic liquid droplets with novel nanostructured films. High-power harvesting of mechanical energy is a long-recognized concept which has not been commercialized in the past due to the lack of a viable energy harvesting technology. Existing methods of mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion such as electromagnetic, piezoelectric, or electrostatic do not allow effective direct coupling to the majority of high-power environmental mechanical energy sources. There is clearly a need for a simple and efficient high-power mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion method capable of utilizing a broad range of aperiodic forces and displacements typically encountered in nature. The proposed approach aims to satisfy these goals and provide a revolutionary leap in the energy harvesting performance. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project hinges upon its ability to provide a viable alternative to traditional electrochemical batteries and thus reduce cost, pollution, and other problems associated with their widespread use. In recent years, portable electronics have become inextricably intertwined with our daily life. However, for all their decreasing size and increasing capabilities, powering mobile devices has remained a challenge. The majority of portable electronic devices are still powered by batteries. The processing power of mobile devices doubles approximately every 18 month in accordance with Moore's law. In contrast the energy capacity of batteries powering these devices has not greatly increased over the last couple of decades. As the result electrical batteries emerged as a critical bottleneck impeding further progress in portable electronics development. If successful, the proposed approach can provide a breakthrough power generation technology and lead to greatly reduced dependence on traditional batteries. This would translate into such important societal benefits as improved productivity and increased efficiency of US workers, decreased pollution due to reduction in the amount and capacity of the batteries required to achieve the same level of performance, as well as development of significant new export opportunities.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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